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50 Best Companies to Watch 2019

An Interview with Gary Fruth, Dalsin Industries CEO: ‘We Believe in Setting Ambitious Goals Which have Helped Drive our Historic Growth at 2x the Market Average for U.S. Precision Metal Fabricators’

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“We integrate tools, technology, and talent to provide world-class precision metal products.”

Dalsin Industries, Inc. leads the metal product manufacturing market in high-value precision metal fabricated products and weldments for world-class OEMs.

The company designs, manufactures, and markets metal products. It offers sheet metal fabrication and bending, metal stamping, metal laser cutting, welding and assembly for a variety of OEM product applications. Dalsin conducts operations and services throughout the United States and offers a global fabrication supply chain program to access raw materials and unique capabilities from offshore providers.

The company was incorporated in 1945 and is headquartered in Bloomington, Minnesota.

Gary Fruth, Dalsin Industries CEO, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Q. Why was the company set up?

The company was initially set up as a family business, and through several eras of growth, it still remains family-owned. The company shifted its governance model to a board with a majority of independent outside directors, several years ago.

Q. How successful was your first major project after assuming the CEO role? Share the experience.

One project example: During the height of the “last great recession” 2008-2009, we started a new business venture resulting in the establishment of “Memphis Wood Fired Grills” a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dalsin Industries. We were trying to take advantage of the excess manufacturing capacity we were experiencing as a result of the recession. What we developed is recognized in the industry as the premier wood pellet grill. We hit a home-run and have enjoyed industry accolades and consumer recognition. As recent as 2018, Amazingribs.com recognized Memphis Grills as the Pitmaster Winner for Best Luxury Grill & Smoker. What started from a downturn in the economy has resulted in a new business endeavor with over a decade of success, and still growing.

Q. There is nothing more important for a successful small business than a well-defined mission and vision statements. Can you explain your M&V statements in brief?

Our mission is short and concise: We integrate tools, technology and talent to provide world-class precision metal products.

Our employees came up with our mission and values. We felt it was important involving them in identifying why we get out of bed each morning and come to work. They live this mission daily in how they interact with each other and perform their job accountabilities.

Q. What are your company’s core values and how are they helping you to succeed?

Dalsin’s value proposition is based on an ironclad commitment to quality and excellence for our customers. Our foundation is built on distinctive competencies—capabilities that translate into value-adds for our customers.

Q. Any company, big or small, must have a sense of authenticity and originality to succeed, is your company a leader or a follower?

Dalsin definitely sees itself as a leader. We believe in setting ambitious goals which have helped drive our historic growth at 2x the market average for U.S. precision metal fabricators. Dalsin leads in its use of delivering operational excellence because we integrate people, processes, and production technology in ways that leave our competitors scratching their heads. Our services deliver high-value solutions to a myriad of industries. We combine design-for-manufacture optimization, collaborative design assistance, high-velocity manufacturing processes, planning and production control, and supply chain management.

Q. “Earning trust and respect of customers is through consistent focus on delivering high quality in all of our actions.” How do you interpret this statement?

We consistently score over 96 percent in overall satisfaction with our products and services, with customer loyalty scores in the top two percent for all industries. There are several reasons behind these ratings: spending time with new customers to deeply understand what they are trying to achieve, offering design enhancements which result in better products, and a focus on quality.

Note: Dalsin sells directly to large OEMs, not to consumers directly.

Q. Fostering a culture of feedback is crucial to the success of every organization. How is this true with your company?

We take employee engagement seriously here at Dalsin. Annually, we conduct an employee engagement survey with the help of an outside consulting firm. We hold ourselves accountable for making progress each year as measured by our employee satisfaction index. We’ve created an advisory council consisting of cross-functional employees throughout the company. The Advisory Council meets quarterly with management to discuss ideas and observations that help foster employee engagement and job satisfaction.

Q. What are the factors that help your company to compete on a global platform?

Dalsin has a relatively new program to manage the entire supply chain on behalf of clients, including verification, design, production, packaging, materials handling, containerization, shipping, logistics, and recycling. Through its global fabrication supply chain program, Dalsin responds to fabrication needs (raw materials and production capabilities) by tapping into its vast network of global suppliers. The initiative has led to Dalsin developing a global supply base, including offshore suppliers in Canada, Mexico, Asia and Europe as the company expands its fabrication and production capabilities. For example, if a client approaches Dalsin with a list of components they want supplied, we determine what can be produced internally and what should be produced through their global network. This allows Dalsin to optimize quality, cost, and delivery for an entire project for its customers.

Moreover, the elements that make Dalsin stand out from the competition are its continuous innovation and application of operational excellence for 75 years.

The company stays relevant to the customer interests by continuously improving the integration of its people and their expertise with high performing business processes and enabling them with robotics and automated production processes.

Q. How do you maintain your customers’ trust and loyalty?

Dalsin’s on-going continuous improvement initiative has played a significant role in OEMs and large companies turning to the Minnesota-based service provider and trusting them with long-term contracts. By developing and tracking key metrics, not to mention constantly investing in robotics and automation, Dalsin persistently drives for improvement at its production facility. Dalsin’s world-class facility has emerged as a sure-fire advantage in securing potential customers, who are impressed when they observe its process capability, state-of-the-art technology, and collaborative workforce.

Q. How does your company contribute to the competitive global IT platform?

Dalsin works with major production technology firms and recommends enhancements. We have done that with our ERP vendor (Epicor), too.

Q. Do you have any new products ready to be launched?

Dalsin is constantly upgrading its technologies. In 2019, we have deployed fiber laser technology, additional automation, and are currently adding an internal paint shop.

Q. Where do you see your company a couple of years from now?

Dalsin has aggressively pursued membership in the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and is currently deploying a large-scale rooftop solar system with a goal of generating 40 percent of its own power needs. We’re also working toward “zero waste to land-fill certification”.

Gary Fruth: A Formidable Leader

Gary Fruth serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Dalsin Industries.

“I joined Dalsin Industries in 2002 as part of a succession plan initiative. I came from a large Fortune 500 company where I brought 27 years of manufacturing operations and fulfillment experience. I was named President/CEO of Dalsin Industries in 2006 and remain in that capacity today.”

“Dalsin’s world-class facility has emerged as a sure-fire advantage in securing potential customers, who are impressed when they observe its process capability, state-of-the-art technology, and collaborative workforce.”